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Classroom Book Clubs and Reading Partners: 10 Tips for Managing them in 2022

In my classroom, we have book buddies. These partnerships come in two forms: Classroom Book Clubs and Reading Partners. A book club consists of a group of students (typically 4-6 is manageable) while reading partners are just two classmates. Both groupings operate in the same manner: The students read the same book independently at the same time. They predetermine a page number to stop at and complete a book discussion planning sheet to bring to the meeting. As they read, they record questions to ask during the discussion. The questions are all open ended to inspire deep and meaningful conversation. This helps to improve comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Students love and are often motivated when given the chance to work or read with a partner or small group. On the other hand, they can become off task and fool around without the right procedures in place. Read below to learn how to manage book buddies, book clubs, and reading partners in your elementary classroom.

10 Tips for Implementing Classroom Book Clubs and Reading Partners

Below are 10 tips for implementing classroom book clubs and reading partners in your classroom.

1. Get to Know your Students

Before you assign groups or partnerships, it’s important for you to get to know your students as readers. You can do this in three ways. First, have them complete a reading survey to learn about their interests and attitude towards reading. Second, hold one-on-one conferences with each student where you listen to them read, ask them reading comprehension questions, and talk about their interests and opinions about reading. Third, analyze data collected from formative and summative assessments. Some examples are curriculum-based benchmark testing, running records, informal observations, records from the previous year, and conversations with their former teacher.

printable reader survey for elementary students

2. Select Partnerships and Grouping Strategically

Use the information gathered to create lists of appropriate partnerships. While interests and abilities should be your priority, it is sometimes beneficial to pair students based on strengths and weaknesses with the goal being for one to learn from the other.

At times students may request to form their own partnerships which is encouraged. However, it is important that the teacher be the one who mainly decides upon the groupings for the shared readings. This is to encourage students to work with others and to match children with peers who share their interests and/or ability level. Don’t always let a child’s reading level determine their grouping. Book Buddies is the perfect opportunity to include a child who may struggle with decoding with a higher level peer. You can read the text with the child, have him listen to an audio version or seek parent support and have him read it and draft his questions at home. 

3. Collect Multiple Copies of Texts

Below are some ways to get multiple copies of books.

  • Order discounted books (or better yet, use your bonus points to get them for free) through Scholastic.
  • Borrow them from the public library, your school library or a friend.
  • Consider a subscription to Reading A to Z and print multiple copies.
  • Search used book stores and yard sales for books that match titles already in your classroom library.

4. Model Expectations

First model the process with the entire class using a shorter text. You can print sample books from Reading A to Z to easily create a class set of texts to use for the initial modeling.

5. Establish and Practice Routines

Be sure to establish routines and procedures along with clear expectations for peer work. Include the students in drafting these expectations. Think about location, volume, and materials. Location: Where will they meet? Which areas of the classroom are most conducive to discussions? If the weather is nice, it is fun to hold these meetings outdoors. Volume: How loud should they be speaking so that they are heard, but not disruptive. Materials: Where will they be stored? How should they be handled?

How does the Clutter Free Classroom manage elementary book buddies, book clubs, and reading partners in her classroom? She shares her classroom management strategies and tips for accountability for read to someone, reading partnerships, and partner activities and responses with anchor chart and poster ideas.How does the Clutter Free Classroom manage elementary book buddies, book clubs, and reading partners in her classroom? She shares her classroom management strategies and tips for accountability for read to someone, reading partnerships, and partner activities and responses with anchor chart and poster ideas.

6. Start Small

Do not start the entire class on Book Buddies at the same time. Instead begin with a small group of students who you feel are ready and responsible. This will allow you to sit in on their meetings and further guide them. Afterwards the students from this first group may be partnered with students who have not yet participated in Book Buddies and can serve as role models in the process. Keep track of partnerships so you can match students with new partners. This is helpful in strengthening skills and developing new friendships.

7. Pair Students with Students in Other Classes

Consider including students from other classrooms. Because the students are only coming together four times and the majority of the work is done independently, it is easy to match students with peers from another class. You may even want to pair a current student with a former student if you feel they would benefit from the experience.

book buddy discussion worksheet to support elementary students during partner reading

8. Utilize Parent Volunteers

Book Buddies is a great opportunity for parent volunteers. Utilize them for creating the packets, gathering the texts from the library, or (best of all) helping to facilitate the discussions by sitting in on the groups.

9. Select Books Purposefully

Prepare a packet for each student and guide them in selecting an appropriate text. I always have them check in with me to make sure they have opted to read a book that is a good fit for all of the students that will be part of the partnership or group. Sometimes I assign the title. 

10. Establish a Structured Format

The students hold an initial meeting to preview the book and determine at which points they will come back together to discuss what they have read. After completing the book, they reconvene to discuss the ending, write a short reflection on the text and the experience and make a short presentation to the class. This creates interest amongst the students and gets then eager to read new books.

How does the Clutter Free Classroom manage elementary book buddies, book clubs, and reading partners in her classroom? She shares her classroom management strategies and tips for accountability for read to someone, reading partnerships, and partner activities and responses with anchor chart and poster ideas.How does the Clutter Free Classroom manage elementary book buddies, book clubs, and reading partners in her classroom? She shares her classroom management strategies and tips for accountability for read to someone, reading partnerships, and partner activities and responses with anchor chart and poster ideas.

In preparing for the new school year, I re-created all of the printables I had used in the past and added in a whole bunch of new ones to help me stay organized when forming partners and groups. I also created a self-reflection and a teacher feedback page. They are all available in my Book Buddies: Reading Partners and Book Clubs in the Classroom Packet, which has more than 40 pages of resources.

resource for organizing and managing book buddies

In closing, we hope you found this information about classroom book clubs and reading partners helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

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